Last weekend I visited the appliance store of Wokai borrower Wang Xiaoming 王小明 in the town of Saijin 赛金. Wang’s tiny shop was filled with the noise of an old Chinese war movie showing on one of his display televisions, and I had to shout over the noise of the gunfire to be heard. Wang took out his first loan from ARDY to help him open the store three years ago and has been taking out microloans since. Wang returned to his hometown to go into business after ten years of migrant work in Guangdong province. He spent two years on the floor in a shoe factory before progressing to the management level. In 2002 he came back to Yilong, but faced several years of disappointment before getting it right. “I opened a shop to sell pig feed, but that failed. I tried opening another shop, but that failed too.” He had some success selling pirated Dvd’s before deciding to move into the more lucrative appliance business.
Like many economic ventures in Yilong, a big portion of Wang’s business revolves around the Chinese New Year season, when migrant workers return home to see their families. He explained to me that he is able to sell a particularly large number of new TV’s at this time. Also, as one would expect, summer time brings an increased demand for air conditioning units; most of the new buildings being built in Yilong are going up with space for air conditioning units.
His latest business venture has brought Wang considerable success in the last few years. As the ARDY loan officer and I left his shop he pointed to a patch of land down the road, past the last building, which he had just acquired. He has already begun preparation to finance the construction of a new building, which will house his business on the ground floor and his family on the second floor. The whole construction project will cost him 30,000 RMB. I asked him how he thought his life would have been different if he had not had access to microloans. “I probably still would have developed in this same direction,” he replied, “but it would have been much harder.”